Use Your DAF to Engage Family in Philanthropy This Holiday Season

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Your donor-advised fund is a wonderful tool for bringing family members together to consider how to help others

family philanthropy mom and daughter on the computer

By Molly Norton

The end-of-year holidays are a natural time to think about giving back. We feel reflective looking back over the past year and hopeful looking forward to the next. Our gratitude for the people, places, and things in our lives inspire us to pay it forward.

Traditionally, we are in close proximity to family, which roots us in the values that have been passed down through generations and that we hope to continue to share with our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It’s a magical time to establish new traditions around charitable giving across generations.

Many people think that foundations are the only way to pass on philanthropic legacies, but donor-advised funds (DAFs) can provide almost all of the same benefits if you take time to be intentional about the conversations with family.

Create an Operating Structure For Your Family Philanthropy

This can be as simple as gifting family members money out of your DAF that they designate to a non-profit. They can then report back to the larger family who they chose and why. Or you could separate your DAF into buckets representing various branches of the family that come together to discuss how to allocate the funds.

Start a Family Charitable Committee

A family charitable committee can serve the same purpose as a foundation board without the administrative headache. Relatives can discuss the kinds of causes you want to support, the values that motivate you to give back, and the criteria you will use to select organizations.

Some families create a junior board for younger kids that allow them to start talking about the values and practices without the responsibility of allocating large sums of money.

Set an Annual Time to Meet

Having a set time to meet establishes regularity and expectation among family members that this work is a priority. My family has met on the second Sunday of November every year for more than 60 years! Setting this date in stone allows us to manage our schedules and reaffirms the meeting as a critical tradition in our yearly planning.

Use Brighton Jones Conversation Guides and Giving Organizers

Our team can customize a set of practices, questions, and tools for you to work through together as a family. Some families choose to have each member answer the questions individually and then discuss their answers. Other families choose to discuss them together from the start. We can discuss what might work best for your family and what you want to accomplish.

However you decide to use philanthropy to continue your family’s legacy, it’s a terrific opportunity to model your values and come together to consider how to help others.

Please reach out to our philanthropy department to learn more about how we can support your family philanthropy this holiday season!

Molly Norton is the philanthropic advisor at Brighton Jones.

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